Dwelling on the edge
Carol Shepherd is bi-sexual and Christian and proud of both and therein has been the thorny point of her explorations. How does someone who defines themselves as bi-sexual find belonging within the Christian world? Carol speaks with zeal and determination about the dilemma that many bi-sexual Christians face and her research has found such intersecting identities can lead to mental health difficulties and suffering.
These are identities which I don’t inhabit, but I have had the experience of feeling ‘other’, of not fitting in. I was tall too soon, towering above my playmates and clumsy in my new height. I had a ‘foreign’ surname and a dad who spoke ‘funny’. We went to the opera and ballet and then at other times in our childhood wore second hand clothes or tops from Littlewoods when all my friends wore Fred Perry T-shirts. I was, an edge-dweller. I could hang out with the cool kids, the sporty crowds, the geeks and they all let me into their cliques, but I never quite fit in.
There is a pain to edge-dwelling. I used to dream of being enclosed in a huge bubble, watching everyone else having fun, and knocking on the bubble to join in, but no-one heard me and I remained alone. It was a recurrent dream which woke me sobbing.
I still yearn for belonging and seek out places to put my roots.
But I have also learned to love edge-dwelling, the easy movement into different worlds, blending, listening, drifting in and out. Like a bee I land here and there, taking pollen from each to see what new thing I can grow. Edge dwellers synthesise and connect because we cross boundaries and silos, curiously.
Carol’s work is weaving a new narrative in Christianity which allows for bi-sexuality and, as any parent knows, if you change the end of a beloved bed time story, it can piss your children off as they hang on to the story they know of old. Re-writing stories isn’t easy but Carol is weaving strands together to see what new can be found, so that when she interviews bi-sexual Christians, they don’t break down at the fact that at last they have found someone who understands them, someone with whom they can be all of themselves.
You can listen to our conversation here or below